Back to Work! Post-Holiday Reflections

Tiina Hoffman

Tiina HoffmanExercise Physiologist & Master Trainer, Firstbeat@Tiinafbt

Corporate Wellness

The 4-week summer holiday is over and I’ve been back at work for a week. Recovered and charged up, but also a bit overwhelmed after spending the week catching up and orientating to the fall as well as getting used to the different daily rhythm. In Finland – and in many other European countries – it’s standard to take a 3-4-week holiday, pretty much regardless of what you do for work. This is a huge cultural difference to for example North America, where people might find even the thought of “leaving work” for 4 weeks at a time irresponsible at best!

Working in a small company, in the fast-moving field of wellness technology, with contacts and clients all around the world, I do find it somewhat challenging to be gone that long. It definitely takes more planning than just shutting the office door! Once the holiday starts, I almost ceremoniously remove the e-mail symbol from the front page of my smart phone and make sure that e-mail doesn’t get synced automatically – so the accumulating e-mails are not too easily visible to me. This really helps. Some people consciously leave their e-mail unchecked for the entire holiday, trusting that others can handle matters in their absence. Many “official holiday guidelines” suggest just that, but I find that checking the mail 1-2 x per week works for me: delete junk, ignore the ones that can wait (they did after all get my holiday notice!) and forward those that need an acute response. It can be risky though … you have to just go in and out, without getting too involved, otherwise your mind does not get the break that a holiday is supposed to provide!

The “goals” of a holiday can vary a lot, depending on your situation. It can be an ideal time to step up your fitness routine, travel and meet friends or pour yourself into various house/yard projects. Or it can be a time to forget to-do’s and let yourself chill … sleep in, read, stare at the sky. There is no right way, the main thing is finding what works for you. This summer my focus was on recuperating – mentally and physically – from a hectic winter and spring. It meant keeping a pretty empty schedule and allowing myself to “fly by the seat of my pants” as much as possible. Time with family, especially with my sons, was high on the list too. For exercise, I forgot target heart rate zones and EPOC values and did whatever felt good – kayaking, rowing, walking in the woods, small yard projects.

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View from my hammock.

Despite it now being the post-holiday season for most, I want to wish enjoyable holidays to those who still have their annual holiday ahead – and energetic days to all of us who are working again. In an article in Helsingin Sanomat (17 Aug 2015), Docent Kirsi Ahola from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health emphasizes taking care of ourselves throughout the year because the summer holiday is unlikely to carry us even as far as Christmas: “Thus, it would be much more important to break the boundaries between work and holiday in our daily life; make it a routine that continues through the winter.”
So, let’s keep the “holiday spirit” with us throughout the year – remembering to take some breaks, find time to be mindful and balance our demands and schedules with R&R when we can!

Tiina Hoffman

Tiina Hoffman Exercise Physiologist & Master Trainer, Firstbeat @Tiinafbt

Tiina is an Exercise Physiologist who works at Firstbeat as a Wellness Specialist. Growing up as a skier, Tiina spent 4 years cross-country ski racing and later 4 year coaching at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. After moving back to Finland, she found her way to Firstbeat after several years in overtraining and heart rate variability field studies at the Research Institute for Olympic Sports and the University of Jyväskylä. To maintain a good balance in her own life, she enjoys the outdoors – kayaking, hiking, xc-skiing and escaping to her cabin in the woods.

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